Catalonia’s leader would not hold a new regional election, crisis deepens

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont delivers a statement at the regional government headquarters, in Barcelona, Spain, October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Vastavam web: Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont on Thursday said he would not hold a new regional election to break the deadlock between Madrid and separatists wanting to split from Spain, sharpening a political crisis that could spill into direct confrontation.But, speaking in the courtyard of the regional government headquarters in Barcelona, Puigdemont said the central government had not provided sufficient guarantees that holding an election would prevent the imposition of direct rule.
“I was ready to call an election if guarantees were given. There is no guarantee that justifies calling an election today,” Puigdemont said.Puigdemont’s stand sets the stage for the Spanish Senate on Friday to approve the take-over of Catalonia’s institutions and police, and give the government in Madrid the power to remove the Catalan president.
But this could spark confrontation on the streets as some independence supporters have promised to mount a campaign of civil disobedience.Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, speaking in a Senate committee, said: “The independence leaders have shown their true face – they have promised a dream but are performing tricks.”The political crisis, the gravest since Spain’s return to democracy four decades ago, has divided Catalonia itself and caused deep resentment in other parts of the country.
It has also prompted a flight of business from the wealthy region and worried other European leaders who see it as fanning separatist sentiment elsewhere on the continent.Exactly how the central government would enforce it in practical terms, and how Catalan civil service and regional police would react, is also uncertain.Most Spanish blue-chips posted substantial gains, notably Banco Sabadell and Banco Santander, both up 3.2 percent.
However, in a fast-moving battle of wills that has seen both sides stake out hard positions and try to keep each other guessing, it was not impossible that a sudden breakthrough could be made in the next 24 hours.